What does a Stage Manager do?

In a live theater or television production, a stage manager is essentially the traffic controller. This person usually assumes command of the physical stage area, dressing rooms, and backstage greenroom after the director has issued his or her final notes to the cast. All crew members, including lighting, sound, props, and scenery technicians, report to him, and he keeps in touch with the director via in-house phone or wireless headset. Throughout the entire production process, he has a number of responsibilities, some of which he may delegate to others.

Rehearsal (pre-rehearsal)

The stage manager usually meets with the director and producer before rehearsals begin to get a basic idea of what they want the show to look like or achieve. He might offer his own suggestions for what might work, as well as explain some of the props, lighting, and other elements, such as costumes or sets, that are available. If the manager is working in a new location, he will take advantage of this time to familiarize himself with the theater’s layout and resources.

Another important task is to set up rehearsal times and ensure that they are adhered to. As he does so, he considers how long people should take to learn their parts and how to ensure that understudies get enough practice. If unforeseen circumstances arise, such as the theater losing power on a rehearsal date, it is usually up to him to determine whether and when to reschedule the rehearsal and to notify all parties involved. Actors, actresses, stage hands, directors, and producers frequently use technology such as email to set up a calendar and communicate quickly with one another.

Another task is to prepare the rehearsal and performance space for the production. Initially, this may be as simple as ensuring that the theater’s heat and lights are turned on. However, it eventually entails tasks such as striking the set, preparing the audio, and removing any equipment that may be in the way, such as a podium. Because many actors, actresses, and other crew members are paid hourly, the producer loses money if they have to wait for their turn to perform.

Dress rehearsal

The stage manager plays a role in security once the rehearsal calendar is active. Unless he doesn’t usually work at the venue, he usually unlocks and locks the building and rehearsal space for everyone else at each practice. In this case, the house manager or another security worker who normally handles the rehearsal space might control entrance and exit. He is frequently the first to arrive at the theater and the last to depart.

One of the most important jobs a stage manager has during a rehearsal is to keep track of all the blocking, lighting cues, prop usage, costume changes, and entrances and exits of all the actors. The theatrical description of the position, “running the book,” comes from the tradition of putting all of these elements into a notebook and executing them. If he does his job well, someone else might be able to use his notes to oversee the technical aspects of a rehearsal or to partially recreate the show. In most cases, gathering this information necessitates him shadowing the director.

The stage manager delegate tasks to other stage hands, such as costume directors or audio-visual specialists, once he has a good idea of what the producer and director want and how the show is supposed to progress. He double-checks that they understand what they’re supposed to do and that they have everything they need to reach their objectives. He frequently schedules and hosts staff meetings so that everyone involved in the production can see how their work fits into the bigger picture and collaborate if necessary. To keep things moving, it’s often necessary to give staff visual or audio cues, with the first few rehearsals usually being the most tense and frustrating.

Coffee is an old theater tradition for those working on a show before a rehearsal. Although not everyone follows this idea, owing to the cost, if a producer and director want to include staff, actors, and actresses in the festivities, the stage manager is usually the one who makes the drinks available. This small gesture is appreciated many people because it conveys a sense of community and relaxation while also getting everyone through long practices.

The day of the performance

On the day of the live performance, a stage manager double-checks that everything is in working order and that everyone is present, including the crew. He collaborates with his crew and other individuals, such as ticket salespeople at the door, to ensure that initial equipment settings are ready and that patrons have access to the venue on time. He is frequently in charge of issuing the familiar “Places, everyone!” call and counting down the minutes until the curtain rises.

Despite the fact that staff typically learns what to do for a production quickly, they frequently seek permission from the stage manager before proceeding. For example, an audio technician may know that he is supposed to start the show at 8:00 p.m. with a specific track of music, but he usually waits for a cue before doing so. As a result, the stage manager controls the majority of the show’s flow.

Technical and human crises occur occasionally, just before or even during a show. For example, a crucial prop could be misplaced, or someone could have a wardrobe malfunction. As a result, one aspect of this job is to take emergency messages, analyze problems quickly, and come up with solutions so that the show can continue on schedule. It’s crucial to be able to think quickly under pressure.

Even if a performance is hectic, the person in charge of the stage is required to take notes on how the show went, including the number of people in the audience. This data is used directors and producers to improve their work. In competition sequences, factors like performance length can be critical, as a cast and crew may be disqualified if they go over time or have other technical issues. These records can inspire congratulatory messages when things go well.


When a show is finished, the stage manager is usually in charge of throwing an after-show party, ensuring that props, sets, and costumes are returned to storage, and returning any borrowed equipment. He may be involved in the handling of bills related to the show in some cases. Additional responsibilities include cleaning up the area and checking for personal items.